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Exploring local governance in a German ‘educational landscapes’ partnership. An ethnographic case study of a collective strategy-building process from a cultural-historical perspective.
Hans-Böckler-Stiftung ;
This PhD thesis explores how local leaders from different institutional backgrounds (schools, youth clubs, etc.) in a German local planning partnership on a neighbourhood level negotiated and co-constructed a strategy for implementing the ‘educational landscapes’ policy in their deprived urban neighbourhood. Drawing on a collective lens, this study focuses on the interplay between the actor’s positioning in the partnership discussions; it examines how their different logics of reasoning interacted, counteracted or acted together on a micro-interaction level and what process and power dynamic unfolded when the common strategy was collectively created. To what extent was their strategy-building process based on an integrated concept-development effort? The study explores the challenges and dilemmas that actors experienced in their local planning process and highlights how they dealt with them and what structural contradictions underlay them.

The thesis is based on a longitudinal ethnographic case study. The fieldwork was conducted over a period of almost three years. Data comprised audiotapes of the planning meetings, interviews at two times with the examined partnership actors, qualitative network analyses and documents. Drawing on a theoretical background that combined critical cultural-historical (Vygotsky-based) theory and neo-institutionalism, the study shows how the 'educational landscapes' idea acted as a 'rationalized myth' which veiled the existing structural contradictions the actors faced and lead to strategic decisions that counteracted the intended programmatic aims.


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